As a Senior Executive Assistant within the South Australian Public Service for the last 15 years of my career, I would like to share with you the secret of EXECUTIVE SUCCESS.  It is simply the effective utilization of the role of an EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT, in other words allowing an Assistant to do the job they were appointed to do, and that funnily enough is to MANAGE their Executive. 

Assistants can only be as effective as their Executive allows them to be.  It is a simple enough statement, but one that needs to be reiterated as this fact is at the crux of the whole working relationship between an executive and their assistant.  An Assistant can only be as effective as their Executive allows them to be.  “And there ends the lesson”, as one very famous actor told his colleague in the movie The Untouchables!

As the old adage goes ‘Horses for Courses’, meaning let the person who knows the job, do the job.  

It is often thought that an executive doesn’t fully understand the capacity of a capable assistant, which means they are probably ‘micromanaging tasks that are actually not part of their role.  

An experienced executive assistant personifies excellence.



The culture of Excellence is not a policy decision it is a Mindset, an Attitude, a Way of Thinking and Behaving.  An Administrative Assistant, whether that be an EA, PA, or other title, personifies Excellence and is seen as a person who can always be relied upon to get the job done.  They are the people who create the win-win situations for their Executive.  They are Indispensable.

As one Manager explained,

“A Personal Assistant is someone who makes their Boss look good. They are always there, but in the background. They can work under pressure and make it look easy. They are disciplined in their environment and makes sure the boss is too. They can get along with people at all levels and act as a go-between where necessary. They are a friend, a confidante and always in a positive and energetic mood.”

His description is significant in that it demonstrates that Executives and Managers are reassessing their evaluation of support staff in their own right and recognizing them as True Professionals.     

(Catherine Middleton)

Call to Action

When you return to your office after Easter, ask your assistant to book a 20 minute meeting with you within the first week back in the office to discuss how things are going and what could be adjusted to create a more dynamic, effective working structure.  Advise your assistant that this appointment must not be cancelled.

This meeting needs to be an honest exchange of ideas.  

Regular Meetings

The importance of regular meetings between the executive and their assistant cannot be underestimated. It is an essential aspect of keeping the communication links open.  The following schedule of meetings should be mandatory:

Daily meetings of between 10-15 minutes are required to review issues for the day which could include changes to the meeting schedule, or changes in circumstance requiring some form of reorganization in the short term.

Weekly meetings to review the week to come and any upcoming commitments etc. It is essential that there is a commitment to attend these meetings as they are the basis for the effective operation of the corporate office.

Monthly Meetings held to discuss projects that are scheduled in say 3 – 6 months that need to be organized over that period.

Time management is the most valuable commodity for any Executive, so being able to utilize an assistant’s expertise will equate to a saving of at least one hour per day.  Now that’s worth pursuing.

More tips on creating a dynamic working relationship within the Executive suite, can be found in The Executive Experience   

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